Five dead in South Korean factory gas leak

Seoul, May 10 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Five workers died following a gas leak at a steel plant in Dangjin, South Korea, Yonhap news agency reported Friday.

The workers’ bodies were found shortly before 2 a.m. inside a furnace they were repairing. They were employed by a subcontractor for Hyundai Steel Co.

Authorities said that argon gas leaked into the furnace.

Argon gas, the first noble gas discovered, is not in itself poisonous, but in high concentration replaces oxygen, which results in asphyxiation.

A representative of Hyundai Steel said argon gas is used to check the piping system of the furnace, but that it should be removed from the pipes after the test is complete.

He said the workers “appear not to have equipped themselves with the required safety equipment” for gas leaks.

Hyundai Steel has offered its condolences to the families affected, and said they are “proactively cooperating” with the government investigation.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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